Dustin Steinhoff, Staff Writer

The University of Missouri-St. Louis Accelerate celebrated their recently relocated facility with an open house where students could come by to see the new location, meet the program’s staff, and talk to other students involved or interested in the program.

Students that gathered in the J.C. Penney Building were able to grab some food, get a look at the conference rooms with TVs and white board walls, and chat about their interests and career aspirations.

Previously operating out of a few offices in the Social Sciences & Business Tower, UMSL Accelerate began relocating to the third floor of the J.C. Penney Building in January. They share the space with GLAM, the Global Leadership and Management Department.

“Coming from two offices, there is a lot more space where we can have student-facing areas,” said Ala Al-Lozi, assistant director of UMSL Accelerate.

It was important to the members of UMSL Accelerate that the new space is welcoming to all students.

“[The new location] is opening and homey. We have snacks and drinks to offer [to students] when they come by. There are couches where students can come to study,” said Al-Lozi. “We want all students to come by.”

UMSL Accelerate may have moved to a new building, but their mission remains the same: to educate entrepreneurs and prepare them for their futures in businesses. UMSL Acceleration explains what they do with three basic principles that work together to create a thriving ecosystem of leaders.

“We can provide a student journey. We do everything on three pillars: educate, innovate, and collaborate,” explained Tamas Javor assistant director of UMSL Accelerate. “A student walks into the classroom and learns a lot about entrepreneurship, they apply this to their business through the innovative activities, and once they are ready to incorporate it to their businesses and enter the real world, we have them put into the ecosystem here in St. Louis and nationwide as well.”

In addition to students already involved in entrepreneurship classes and programs, the open house was designed to be able to gather new members who may not consider themselves entrepreneurs. Those in UMSL Accelerate see their program as one that provides many useful skills to anyone, not just entrepreneurs.

“Anyone can use entrepreneurship and innovation skills in their personal lives or careers. You do not have to be an entrepreneur to to participate in our programs,” said Al-Lozi. “It is good to have the knowledge of how entrepreneurs think in order to apply it to what you do. If you want to work for a big company, you will want to learn how to think differently or to think of new ideas for companies to survive.”

Members of UMSL Accelerate strive to work with anyone who walks through their door and help them reach their entrepreneurial and business-related goals through their various programs and resources.

“We are an interdisciplinary institution, so we work with students from all backgrounds,” said Javor. “We would like to help them change their minds in the sense that they should be more innovative and entrepreneurial because even if they do not start out in companies, these are the kinds of soft skills that will benefit them in the long run and finding jobs as well.”

In addition to its everyday uses, being a part of the UMSL Accelerator program will also look good on resumes, allowing students in this program to get ahead of other people applying for jobs and internships.

“We are gathering several resources for [students] and our job is monitored based on their success,” said Javor. “If they want to start a company, there is not a better time to be an entrepreneur at UMSL than right now.”